2000 Belgian Grand Prix
|Race 13 of 17 in the 2000 Formula One season|
|Date||27 August 2000|
|Official name||LVIII Foster's Belgian Grand Prix|
|Location||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
6.968 km (4.330 mi)
|Distance||44 laps, 306.592 km (190.507 mi)|
|Weather||Wet at start, drying, Air Temp: 14°C|
|Time||1:53.803 on lap 30|
The 2000 Belgian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on August 27, 2000 at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Spa, Belgium. It was the thirteenth race of the 2000 Formula One season. The race was the 58th Belgian Grand Prix and the 46th to be held at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. The race was held over 44 laps of the 6.9-kilometre circuit for a total race distance of 307 kilometres.
The race was won by Finnish driver, Mika Häkkinen driving a McLaren MP4/15. The win was Hakkinen's fourth win of the season and McLaren's seventh. Hakkinen won by 1.1 seconds over German driver Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari F1-2000. Schumacher's younger brother Ralf Schumacher, driving a Williams FW22, finished third.
After the disappointment of the Hungarian Grand Prix where they were clearly slower than the McLarens of Häkkinen and Coulthard, Ferrari desperately needed a win at the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. In qualifying though, Mika Häkkinen in the McLaren again proved he was the man to beat, Jarno Trulli dragging his Jordan-Mugen Honda onto the front row and with rookie Jenson Button a surprise 3rd quickest in the impressively quick Williams-BMW. Michael Schumacher was struggling in 4th, clearly his Ferrari not up to pace with Häkkinen.
The rain arrived on Sunday, drenching the circuit and forcing race stewards to start the race under the safety car. The start-finish straight is short, leading into a sharp hairpin (La Source) which has been the site of many incidents in past races. Thus, safety concerns were heeded. It was not long before the safety car entered the pits and the race began. The early stage was no contest. Häkkinen was pulling away in the wet conditions, with championship rivals Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard trapped in traffic. However, Schumacher's job was made a lot easier with Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli colliding into La Source, leaving the door open for the German to push up into 2nd. Ralf Schumacher in the other Williams-BMW now inherited 3rd.
However, dry lines started to appear. The front-runners were clearly not prepared to take the gamble and switch to dry tyres, but Jean Alesi in the Prost Peugeot basically had nothing to lose and tried his luck. After his tyre change, he was clearly the fastest driver on the circuit, triggering teams to call their drivers in to do the same. McLaren made a tactical error by not calling Häkkinen and Coulthard into the pits immediately, costing them valuable time and allowing a now charging Michael Schumacher to close the gap. Meanwhile, Alesi's inspired decision had earned him a net 4th place after the pitstops.
These semi-wet conditions obviously suited Michael Schumacher's wet set-up car more than it did Häkkinen's dryer set-up car, and the German started to close the gap to the Finn. Then, Häkkinen had a spin on standing water and allowed Schumacher to take the lead. For the next handful of laps, Schumacher was comfortably extending the gap. ITV commentator Martin Brundle believed that Schumacher's clever use of the remaining wet line from Raidillon to Les Combes to cool his tyres (hence maximise their performance) was playing an integral role in his ability to pull away so easily from Häkkinen. Schumacher pitted at about half distance of the 44 lap race and filled his car with enough fuel to complete the race. Häkkinen kept going for a short while and he too completed his final pitstop.
Schumacher was still comfortably in front, but now obviously faster Häkkinen was clearly closing on the Ferrari. The track was now fully dry and Häkkinen was on a charge. Schumacher had set up his Ferrari for wet conditions due to the morning weather, meaning he had a fairly high downforce setting. He was particularly slow down the straights (notably through Eau Rouge, through Raidillon and up the Kemmel Straight approaching Les Combes). Meanwhile, Häkkinen had a more dry-weather based set-up in anticipation of a primarily dry race. This would prove crucial in the outcome of the battle.
In the final stages of the race, Häkkinen was using his straight-line speed advantage to good effect as he aimed a move up the inside of Schumacher up the Kemmel Straight approaching Les Combes. In typically robust fashion, Schumacher was going to have none of this and almost forced Häkkinen onto the grass at over 200 miles an hour. The Finn was unimpressed with that manoeuvre. He would not have to wait long for payback, in fact the very next lap at the same spot. As he and Schumacher were about to lap Ricardo Zonta, Schumacher went around the BAR driver to the left but Häkkinen went around Zonta's right and outbraked Schumacher into Les Combes. Michael Schumacher put in a good drive but in the end, he could not contain a simply faster Häkkinen. Ralf Schumacher also put in a great performance to take the final step of the podium, outracing David Coulthard in the second McLaren.
Häkkinen now led the championship with 74 points, with Schumacher 6 points behind.
Standings after the race
- Bold text indicates who still has a theoretical chance of becoming World Champion.
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
"2000 Belgian GP: Qualification". ChicaneF1.com. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
"2000 Belgian Grand Prix". The Official Formula 1 Website. Archived from the original on 5 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
"2000 Belgian GP: Classification". ChicaneF1.com. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
2000 Hungarian Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
2000 Italian Grand Prix
1999 Belgian Grand Prix
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2001 Belgian Grand Prix